Mexico: Spotlight on Gastronomy

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The Viceroy Zihuatanejo offers a mezcal and chocolate experience for couples.
The Viceroy Zihuatanejo offers a mezcal and chocolate experience for couples.

Dining in Mexico is always a treat—whether one is on the hunt for the very best culinary experience in Mexico City’s affluent neighborhoods or enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the country’s many beachfront resorts. No matter where your client decides to call home for a few days, Mexico delivers with a feast for the palate.

Art, Romance & Tequila Tastings
Marrying cuisine and art, Playacar Palace has a new dining experience on the menu—the FRIDA KAHLO by ALQUIMIA sensory dining offering. It combines haute cuisine with an audiovisual spectacle utilizing a variety of innovative cooking techniques including liquid nitrogen, low temperature cooking and a vacuum coffee maker, among other elements. It’s a 2-hour dinner that hotel reps say stimulates the five senses, enhanced by thematic music, ranging from classical to traditional Mexican, and art. Ideal for up to 10 guests, the experience offers 11 courses inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, with unexpected flavor contrasts such as fiery chili with honeyed flan, and tender venison with sharp orange zest paired with champagne and mezcal.

Speaking of mezcal, the Viceroy Zihuatanejo offers a Romantic Immersion with Mezcal and Designer Chocolates amenity that’s ideal, well, you guessed it, for couples looking for the ultimate sensual experience. Picture a plunge pool surrounded by candles, romantic music, chocolates from Mexico City chocolatier QueBo and a self-guided mezcal tasting. The latter includes three brands of highly rated mezcal that vary throughout the year along with an instruction card describing how to conduct the tasting. The pricing is $175 for two.

It’s tequila that’s top of mind at Hyatt Ziva Cancun, where Eduardo Urbina, the resort’s master tequilier, offers bookable tequila tastings that delve into the history of this national liquor of Mexico—did you know it takes eight to 11 years to grow the blue agave plant necessary to make tequila? Urbina shows guests that tequila is meant to be swiveled, gently inhaled, sipped, swished around in the mouth (without taking in oxygen), and then swallowed—not taken as a quick shot. At the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, there’s also a tequila sommelier that offers tastings and food pairing tips for guests. Over at the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cancun, meanwhile, guests in the Junior Suites Oceanfront and Premium room categories can take advantage of the Chef’s Plate offering, for which the executive chef prepares a customized 7-course menu, complete with a wine sommelier for pairings.

And while we’re in Cancun, let me point you to Live Aqua Cancun, an adults-only all-inclusive resort whose MB restaurant offers a unique ambiance, with innovative cuisine that incorporates Mexican flavors, while creating new distinctive tastes.

Grasshoppers, Pacman & Pint-Sized Aprons
Authentic cuisine—Italian, Mexican and Asian—is on offer at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, with new items on its restaurants’ menus. The dishes feature an array of unusual local ingredients including moles, chapulines (grasshoppers) and huazontles (herbs), as well as dishes such as grilled lobster and scallops topped with fresh mango, a jicama salad and a Mexican sauce made from corn fungus. The resort has also just debuted a new drink menu for teens to complement its new teens’ club (more on the teen club is included in Recommend’s March 2016 issue). The drinks, with fun names like Pacman, Tic Tac Toe and Superman, accompany the snacks available at the club.

Maybe your clients have left Pacman and Superman way behind, and for those folks the adults-only Casa Velas resort in Puerto Vallarta has reintroduced its complimentary dinners with the chef. Each Tuesday, executive chef Eliseo Ibarra prepares an intimate dinner for 18 guests poolside or in the resort’s botanical garden that features a different menu weekly with corresponding wine pairings. A sampling includes artichoke hearts stuffed with shrimp and a citrus arugula vinaigrette; and forest fruits tiramisu served in a vanilla Grand Marnier sauce and goat cheese sorbet. The hotel also offers margarita samplings, Bellini night and martini tastings.

For kids who love to get their hands dirty—and what kid doesn’t—the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun offers a cooking class series as part of its interactive KidZ program. Led by the resort’s own executive chef, the class offers kids the opportunity to make pizzas, cookies and a variety of party food, all while donning their pint-sized aprons and chef hats.

Culture, Cuisine in the D.F.
In Mexico City—known worldwide for its culinary prowess—Tia Stephanie Tours offers an array of Mexico City Culinary Journeys, including a few new ones. Take, for example, the Mexico City: Art, Culture & Cuisine, slated for April 17-24 and Aug. 14, 21; priced from $2,435 pp. It combines plenty of sightseeing around the city with an array of culinary-focused detours, including dinner at Azul Historico, where chef Ricardo Munoz creates traditional Mexican dishes; lunch while on a trajinera boat ride on the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, where participants learn about ancient agriculture; and lunch at San Angel Inn, a picturesque restaurant with gardens, fountains and strolling musicians. The tour operator also offers a customized Culture
and Cuisine of Mexico: Traditional to Contemporary
itinerary that explores the ancient foods of Mexico, including how heritage foods such as corn, vanilla, and amaranth are being interpreted in contemporary ways at several restaurants.

Contact Information
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun:
Live Aqua Cancun:
Playa Hotels & Resorts:
Playacar Palace:
Tia Stephanie Tours:
Velas Resorts:
Viceroy Zihuatanejo: